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JoeDavola

Remote Contracting - Is It A 'thing'?

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I have a programming job at the moment with a technology set that I enjoy but that is very much a niche, compared to things like C# or Java or something.

I have no desire to leave the job since, at the moment the work/life balance is so good, my colleagues are all very amicable ect...

However, there's bound to be places all over the world who could use my development expertise for short periods of time. In previous jobs I've worked via remote virtual machines without problem, so there's no reason an organization couldn't let me connect remotely if they needed help with troubleshooting something, or a bit of development work done. So basically short term contracting here and there, without having to leave my current job.

Does anyone know if this is possible? Is there market places out there where you can offer yourself as a developer for hire on short term basis? The nature of my expertise is that the only people who will have this bit of software will be large organizations (it's expensive enterprise level software) so I reckon they'd probably just go through large contractors and pay the big money to get someone on site, but I'd be interested to see what's out there...

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One of my friends does a lot of IT support work remotely from home, after doing a weekly commute from Wales to the Midlands for a few years. Still after a takeover, they made him staff, but he is still paid well. :huh: AS you say you have good colleagues, wouldn't you miss them working remotely?

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One of my friends does a lot of IT support work remotely from home, after doing a weekly commute from Wales to the Midlands for a few years. Still after a takeover, they made him staff, but he is still paid well. :huh: AS you say you have good colleagues, wouldn't you miss them working remotely?

I meant doing extra consulting from home here and there on top of my current job ;)

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Yes there is. I've been doing it for decades, but ..

Recruiters aren't going to help you much. They pretty much don't get it in my experience. You really need to be either personally recommended or to build up a relationship with a client on-site first. Another option might be if you have a local digital hub with a contracts/ jobs board, like WiredSussex. But as Montecristo said, there's a lot of bargain basement competition.

I'm currently developing an API for an XML feeds aggregator in PHP, nearly done, and have had just 1 face to face with client. I have done others in the past where I never met the client (or co-developers) at all.

Always fancied basing myself somewhere exotic and cheap like Tangiers, but never quite had the stones to do it while I was single - too late now. Nearest I've come is working on holidays or while camping or once memorably out of a Euro Disney hotel.

Edit: tell a lie, once I programmed from the balcony of the Montreux Palace Hotel looking out over Lake Geneva (Pharma conference - client paid).

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I've been doing that in one form or another since 2005, albeit with a big chunk of that in two remote PAYE jobs.

Let it be known in places you're respected in the community that you're available for such work, and keep your ear to the ground.

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I too have got a remote development job - I'm living in France and working for UK clients. Been doing it for a year, and before that I lived in the UK and remote-worked there too for a while.

My tuppence' worth on the subject:

  • Forget about freelancer sites like elancer. You'll be competing against 500 million Chindians who will do the job - any job - for a packet of popadoms.
  • I got my current gig through a recruiter - but after all my years of contracting, they are the only recruiter that I will do business with. All the others are cokkwombles.
  • Forget about massively popular techs, like Java development - most clients will want a roomful of devs, and just won't bother with a candidate who has unusual requirements (like working from home).
  • Focus on something fairly niche - looks like you've already done that!
  • Make yourself known - go to conferences, give a talk, write a technical blog (one that's good enough to get retweeted). Basically, prostitute market yourself, and be ready to put in plenty of hours doing this. You don't have to be a natural-born salesman at this - just do it!
  • YMMV - but in my area of expertise, the "odd hours in the evening" jobs are very rare. Also you said "let me connect remotely if they needed help with troubleshooting something" but - if something goes down and needs troubleshooting, which company will wait all day for the troubleshooter? What kind of IT system can go offline for a whole day?

Finally: in my experience, remotely connecting to a company LAN can be a bit of a nightmare... and the bigger the company, the worse it gets! Are you sure that your clients - or rather, their network administrators - will be happy letting someone connect remotely?

Re-finally: I know nothing about your area of expertise, or what the market for it is like. My advice opinions might be complete ball rocks.

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That sounds even better than Weston!

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I'm doing it at the moment but still part-time for now. If I go full-time contracting I'd like to keep it as working from home. Not too bothered for now though as I'm also working on my own business.

You only really need a handful of good clients. Like others have said get out there and contact companies, I think it's easier to do once you have a portfolio to your name, something I'm building up for now. It's better to have a handful of good clients, it's also better to have longer contracts for bigger jobs. But you can't always get the best of both worlds then at least try for the bigger contracts.

I think good developers are rare in the UK, seems to be much more good developers in the US. People say the US pays more for good developers, I used to agree with that but these days I think it's just the good developers in the UK go contracting so aren't on the salary statistics, we may potentially earn more here.

At university there were only 14 people on my software engineering course, I hear it's just as unpopular in other British universities with people preferring 'Computer Science' which is less hardcore programming. I think even a lot of IT people don't like the idea of programming as a career.

The way I see it once you've done enough programming it almost becomes second nature, you can pickup new languages quickly and doing a task in a language you are familiar with becomes much easier. It's a more level playing field than other careers because you can be paid based on your performance, if you finish a project in half the time it takes Joe Bloggs then you can earn twice as much money as him for the time you put in.

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Just checked out elance (now upwork), and the rates are depressing - people who are (allegedly) in the USA charging the equivalent of £15 pounds an hour? Wouldn't be at all worth it.

Although there is nobody in the UK on elance with my skillset, which is interesting, and only 11 in the whole of America. And many of those aren't too good at writing profiles it seems.

About 30 folk in India, charging as little as £7 an hour, but some of the profiles read terribly.

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To be realistic Joe your options are limited when holding down a day job. I had a great gig last year where it was all work from home. So I spent September in Spain. Found a great apartment in Alicante overlooking the marina on airbnb. Cost feck all.

That does sound like 'the dream'. Well done - I could do my current job remotley most of the year, but like most places they like to see bums on seats, even though we're doing nowt a lot of the time!

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Thanks for the advice folks; I agree that the remote access might be an issue. I think that's what might stump me over all else.

I'm going to start a small technical blog, and I'll update my LinkedIn profile - had one for close to a decade and haven't been proactive with it.

I've had a wide enough range of experience, and I'm a pragmatic enough person, that I think I'd be very good at writing useful, easily maintainable applications and making architectural/design recommendations in this tech that I use; but it's a case of getting that across and not just being thought of as a 'code monkey' when I genuinely think I have more to offer.

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I'm in IT but not a programmer, however I have a hobby site I bought on flippa. I'm trying to learn PHP so I can update/develop it etc. It makes a small amount each month without any work. If I had programming skills like yourself I would spend my spare time developing income generating websites, wordpress plugins etc. This kind of work will break the office shackles.

Yeah I've got one 'passive income' idea that I should really get my finger out and start working on. Bought the domains last year and I know exactly how I want it all to work. Just my own inner critic telling me 'it'll never work' at the moment that I need to fight.

I did a fairly large PHP project recently - I'm not offering my services of course, but just to tell you it's easy enough to pick up so you shouldn't have any problems. Thanks for mentioning flippa - I'd never heard of it. Looks fascinating - like the idea of buying ailing online businesses (provided I have an idea of how to improve them) and then turning things around.

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Glad to hear it's easy to pick up. Got some tutorial videos just need the time to go through them.

A big word of caution with flippa. There are a lot of scam sites that get advertised. Income generating websites provide evidence of earnings e.g screenshots of ad sense account. Some scammers photoshop evidence etc. Lots of research is required before buying.

Thanks for the tips - yeah I'm looking around it now and there's a few things on it that scream '********'.

I guess since most technical things at this level can be easily replicated what you're basically buying is a known 'brand'/guaranteed traffic/users - out of interest how much did the business cost in terms of multiples of monthly earnings? (that way you don't have to give anything away)

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24 months X monthly earnings. Income is from US amazon associates. Amazon associates rate are terrible 3 - 8 %. My plan is to replicate the site tweaking the code to target other English speaking countries.

What about putting in some sort of localization and paying external translators to translate to whatever the biggest non-english speaking markets are?

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Amazon associate websites use Amazon node Ids to link products. The node IDs are unique to each country. I think the easiest way to target other countries is to create a new domain and upload the site and change the node IDs to match that country.

I agree about getting translators to translate the menus to match the country etc. Just need to be careful about giving them any ideas :)

I have a goal of around £500 a month. With passive income I plan to be in S.E Asia in the near future.

I'm going to send you a PM.

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I have a goal of around £500 a month. With passive income I plan to be in S.E Asia in the near future.

Yes in my head I think £500 would be a realistic good start for me. Ideally I'd like £2000 a month (coupled with a house bought outright it would mean I wouldn't have to work if I didn't want to) but I think that's probably unrealistic - although the idea would be to get to that point via multiple little businesses set up over the next 5 years or so. But anything per month of 'money while you sleep' would be great and would feel like quite an achievement.

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  • I got my current gig through a recruiter - but after all my years of contracting, they are the only recruiter that I will do business with. All the others are cokkwombles.

In all my years of contracting I've never had any major issues with recruiters/agents. I don't like people taking a cut but I've had far more problems dealing with people directly.

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In all my years of contracting I've never had any major issues with recruiters/agents. I don't like people taking a cut but I've had far more problems dealing with people directly.

You should buy a lottery ticket !!

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Im also a remote consultant developer. Have a steady stable contract which I work from home. I supplement it with gigs from friends who have excess work so sub contract to them. Gets quite hairy if I have over promised and working 16 hour days but try to limit that.

I am now getting paid below market rate as I have been there awhile but it is just so comfortable I am really debating going back to look for another as I would have to build up confidence with client to be able to work from home etc.

My wife is Thai so we go there for a few months every year and work from there staying at her parents. My family are from South Africa so I go there a few months a year and work there too. But we have a little kid now so keep keep the rental here in UK as too much hassle to pack everything up all the time.

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You should buy a lottery ticket !!

Share the issues you've had then.

I would love to get rid of intermediaries... estate agents, recruiters etc. I've probably dealt with 20 agencies and it is pretty much a case of

i. they have a job

ii. you match the requirements more or less

iii. you interview with the final client

iv. you sign on the dotted line

v

vi. $$$$

I've always been paid by return of invoice.

Direct with clients they never know what they want, never seem to get their acts together to decide to hire, fanny around, don't pay for months, don't know the legals of making contracts etc.

I'm not saying other people haven't had bad experiences, just that I haven't.

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Many poor experiences - lying about rates, lying about there even being a role as they are just fishing for names (this has probably happened to you and you didn't even realise it). Complete failure to contact if they don't think it will be in their Interest - suddenly becoming your best mate as soon as they see $$ flashing in their eyes. It's endless.

Now some are decent - but most are not. It's like EA's - they haven't got a reputation for being ***** for nothing.

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lying about there even being a role as they are just fishing for names (this has probably happened to you and you didn't even realise it). Complete failure to contact if they don't think it will be in their Interest - suddenly becoming your best mate as soon as they see $$ flashing in their eyes. It's endless.

Now some are decent - but most are not. It's like EA's - they haven't got a reputation for being ***** for nothing.

I don't generally give out names of third parties to agents.

I'm not overly bothered about lack of contact, I was when I first went contracting but afterwards. Well I'm not their mate, I don't need the hand holding and well, I'm also suddenly their best mate if I see $$$ in my eyes. It cuts both ways.

Thanks for replying. I can see the things that bother some people don't overly worry me but I understand that. Yeah, it is pretty cutthroat.

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If I was in their job I would probably do similar - however with a bit of politeness. That is sorely lacking in many of their trade.

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